A conversation with Fretful Porpentine over at Quills has me wondering—what sort of yield is good, or bad, on the market?

If you send out 50 applications, and only get 1 conference interview, clearly, that’s not so good. But what is good? Is 5 interviews, a 1-in-10 yield, good? Or would you have to get 10 interviews for a 1-in-5 yield, to consider it a good rate of success?

The last time I was on the market, we had a friend who got three conference interviews and three jobtalks. Clearly an amazing interview-to-on campus ratio, but I’m pretty sure he sent out many more than three applications. And I’m sure that this friend was feeling a little tense during all the pre-conference conversation, when “how many interviews do you have?” was the first question asked (not by me—I hate that question. And I think following it up with “what schools” is positively impolite).

So we didn’t worry about yield at all, because the thinking is that the only yield that matters is that you get employed. But I think it’s interesting—long after the fact—to look at the interim numbers.